Posts tagged with "Emerging Voices":

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AN presents the Architectural League’s 2020 Emerging Voices winners

The Architectural League of New York’s annual Emerging Voices program once again delivers eight up-and-coming practices making an impact on building and discourse. This year’s jury was composed of Stella Betts, Mario Gooden, Mimi Hoang, Lisa Iwamoto, Dominic Leong, Paul Lewis, Matt Shaw, and Lisa Switkin. Approximately 50 firms were evaluated throughout the invited competition. As in past years, the winners were varied and represented practices from across North America, although many of the 2020 winners can be found on the East Coast. All of the winners will be honored next month and will participate in a lecture series at 130 Mercer Street in Manhattan:

Olalekan Jeyifous and PORT on March 5 at 7:00 p.m. Mork Ulnes Architects and Young Projects on March 12 at 7:00 p.m. Escobedo Soliz and Dake Wells Architecture on March 19 at 7:00 p.m. Blouin Orzes architectes and Peterson Rich Office on March 26 at 7:00 p.m.

Escobedo Soliz

Only four years after founding their firm, Pavel Escobedo and Andres Soliz have built a trusted brand in Mexico City’s saturated design market. Escobedo Soliz formed soon after the pair graduated from the National Autonomous University of Mexico and together won the 2016 MoMA PS1 Young Architects Program (YAP) summer installation competition.

Their YAP project, Weaving the Courtyard, brought acclaim in the U.S. but not at home, Soliz said. “That award is amazing for people in New York and holds a lot of prestige among those people, but here in Mexico, sadly, developers don’t care as much. What we took from that experience was a foundation of concepts and rules that we have used to build our practice, like the value of using simple or prefabricated materials and constructing by hand.”

After struggling to get commissions back in Mexico, the duo moved to Bolivia for a year to begin work on an ongoing design-build structure: a 17,200-square-foot funeral chapel made of artisanal brick on a shoestring budget. This project helped define the studio’s emerging focus on social service. When the pair returned to Mexico, their first major project was the José Maria Morelos Primary Rural School in Santa Isabel Cholula, part of the recovery from the deadly 2017 Puebla earthquake, which damaged over 200 public school buildings in the state. The design team conceptualized and built the school in just nine months.

“In Mexico, the country’s laws are very strict and the architect frequently has to be the builder,” said Soliz. “That’s why we go after custom projects in different contexts and with low budgets, whether it's for someone’s home or a special typology like the funerary chapel. We like to focus on the quality of materials and controlling the details. As young architects in Mexico, this keeps us competitive.” - Sydney Franklin

Young Projects

Bryan Young, principal and founder of Brooklyn-based Young Projects, aims for ambiguity. His buildings lend themselves to spatial and material misreadings that disrupt conventional hierarchies, inviting occupants to recalibrate their relationships with their surroundings.

“A tension exists between a normative reading and a misreading, but the misreading is just subtly off,” Young said. “It’s always something that is just a little bit off that draws you into the work.”

Young founded his firm in 2010 after working for Allied Works, Architecture Research Office (ARO), and Peter Pfau, all previous Emerging Voices winners that explore and exploit material properties. Since then, Young has designed polished residential projects that reinterpret familiar materials or layouts. Several walls of the Pulled Plaster Loft in Tribeca ripple with a custom pulled-plaster treatment that adapts techniques used to make traditional crown molding; the plan of the forthcoming 6 Square House in Bridgehampton, New York, is simultaneously a cluster of squares, a crossing of bars, and a fragment of an extendable pattern; and the Glitch House in the Dominican Republic is clad in encaustic cement tiles arranged to confuse light and shadow.

Smaller, in-house experiments (Young refers to them as “young projects”) incubate ideas and processes that could be applied to larger work, or just inspire new ways of creating. Currently sitting in his office is a tensile structure encrusted with salt crystals that might—or might not—point toward what Young Projects has in store. - Jack Balderrama Morley

Mork Ulnes

Dividing his time between Oslo, Norway, and San Francisco, Casper Mork-Ulnes has learned to synthesize design principles from the two regions as the basis for Mork Ulnes, the firm he founded in 2005. “Simply put,” he explained, his eight-person team is “influenced by Scandinavian practicality and California’s spirit of innovation.”

Residential design makes up the majority of the firm’s completed work, including the dramatic renovation of several Victorian-era homes throughout San Francisco. When updating antiquated interiors, Mork Ulnes “strives to make [homes] more efficient, more light-filled, and less compartmentalized,” according to the architect, “to perhaps hark back to a California way of living in which buildings were once more extroverted.”

When given the opportunity to design from the ground up, the firm favors locally sourced woods and distinctly minimal forms. For example, the exterior of Mylla Hytte, a 940-square-foot cabin set within a Norwegian forest, is clad in untreated heart-pine planks that will weather over time, in contrast to the plywood of its interior walls and built-in furniture. - Shane Reiner-Roth

PORT

The members of Chicago and Philadelphia–based firm PORT have made it their mission to elevate urban navigation from a chore to a pleasure. The firm believes that a city’s highways, byways, and interstitial spaces reflect a collective attitude toward equity, democracy, and civil rights, and that those values can be bolstered by creative design intervention.

Christopher Marcinkoski and Andrew Moddrell both trained as architects and formally established PORT in 2013 after setting their sights on the spaces in between buildings. They demonstrated their passion for the interstitial with their Lakeview Low-Line project, a collection of bright yellow urban furniture installed beneath the elevated train tracks of Chicago’s Brown Line. “Lakeview takes a site that no one pays attention to,” said Marcinkoski, “and demonstrates the possibility of transforming that space into something that is generous and welcoming.”

PORT has also taken to increasing public engagement at sites that have long been the center of civic attention, as in its OVAL+ series of temporary pavilions for Eakins Oval, the 8-acre park in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. - Shane Reiner-Roth

Peterson Rich Office

Sculptural gallery interiors, high-end retail, and housing and maintenance strategies for the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA)—three areas that might seem incongruous, but at the eight-year-old Peterson Rich Office (PRO), designing airy, light-filled spaces is part and parcel of considerate urban planning.

Founders Miriam Peterson and Nathan Rich trace their approach to experiences working at Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects and Steven Holl Architects—two firms known for their bright institutional projects—as well as SHoP, which Rich says taught him to break down the profession’s “traditional barriers and open [himself] up to different types of work.” Because of often tight budget constraints, PRO’s projects focus on form, gesture, and filling spaces with natural light instead of expensive materials.

The studio is working with New York’s Regional Plan Association to come up with suggestions for how NYCHA can simultaneously make up its $31.8 billion maintenance deficit while capitalizing on the agency’s 68.5 million square feet of undeveloped floor area. This isn’t the firm’s first dance with NYCHA; in 2014, PRO’s 9x18 project provided a blueprint for turning the housing agency’s 20 million square feet of parking into infill housing, and those strategies made their way into Mayor Bill de Blasio’s affordable housing plan.

“We always start with a certain amount of research, and try to draw from that research a series of goals for the project,” Rich said. “We try to introduce what we call ‘five points’; these are values and goals built with the client, guiding principles, and those things emerge from context, institution, and need. It’s narrative, and we try to stay true to those things.” - Jonathan Hilburg

Dake Wells

“People are often surprised by how our projects end up looking like they do in these really rural areas,” said Andrew Wells, cofounder of Springfield- and Kansas City-based firm Dake Wells Architecture. “The common question we get is, How did you do that? For us, it boils down to solving peoples’ problems. There is an aesthetic component to that, yes, but it’s just a response.”

On numerous occasions, Wells and Brandon Dake, who together started the studio in 2004, have presented several design options to a client who ended up choosing the most challenging proposal on the table. Take Reeds Spring Middle School in rural southwestern Missouri. Set on 150 acres of undeveloped land beneath the Ozark Mountains, this 2017 project is tucked into a sloping ravine. “Finding the right spot to put the school was hard, so one of our ideas was to allow the building to negotiate the steep topography of the site,” said Wells, “but we didn’t think they'd go for it.” In the end, the semisubterranean design allowed Dake Wells to add a storm shelter to protect students, teachers, and staff during tornado season, one of the client’s biggest goals, and resulted in a striking exterior.

According to the design team, using few materials and a muted color palette also helps them concentrate on forming shapes that will stand out. Both Dake and Wells are from small towns in Missouri and feel most rooted in their work when they return to similar spots throughout the region on commission, often collaborating with low-income school districts with tight budgets. “We don’t subscribe to the notion that good design is for elite clients with money to spend,” Dake said. “We take on low-budget projects and push them as far as we can.” - Sydney Franklin

Blouin Orzes

Few have mastered the nuanced art of designing for the extreme climate of Canada’s Circumpolar North in the face of global warming. But Marc Blouin and Catherine Orzes of Montreal-based Blouin Orzes architectes have made that challenge the heart of their practice. Dedicated to what they describe as a “tireless journey” through the villages of Nunavik, the vast northern third of Quebec, Blouin and Orzes create buildings that empathetically address the pressing needs of Inuit communities.

For Blouin Orzes, the work doesn’t stop at the building itself—the architects also play an active role in public consultation processes, sourcing funding and filing grants on behalf of their clients. “It’s a constant search for a balance between tradition and modernity in the contemporary realities of northern communities,” the architects explained. “We have discovered the importance of patiently learning from a culture distinct from our own and have come to love the landscapes and respect nature’s harsh conditions.”

The Katittavik Cultural Centre in Kuujjuarapik, a village on the coast of Hudson Bay, is representative of the firm’s work providing much-needed social spaces for people in remote locations. Upward of 10,000 people use the center, located in one of Nunavit’s 14 communities north of the 55th parallel. The area’s harsh conditions create construction challenges, like high costs, a limited labor force, protracted schedules, and concerns about sustainability. Yet building here takes not only resources and time, but also considerable trust—which the designers work continually and respectfully to earn. - Leilah Stone

Olalekan Jeyifous

For Olalekan Jeyifous, the physical world doesn’t take precedence over the space of imagination. By embracing the tension between reality and invented narratives, his work produces a panoply of architectural inquiries in various media, including hyperreal photomontages, public sculpture, whimsical installations, and immersive VR experiences. Rather than prescribing function, his projects encourage their audiences to reconsider architecture’s relationship to the communities it affects.

Jeyifous describes his work as a result of the “process of connection as opposed to reaction, evoking a notion of ‘place’ rooted in immanence and possibility.” His built public work embraces multiplicity and interpretation, and engages each community’s historic and contemporary challenges, including histories of mobility and displacement, issues of equity in urban housing markets, and the importance of public spaces as sites of protest.

His unbuilt work is equally rooted in social justice. Born in Nigeria, Jeyifous has developed various projects that envision the future of the country’s sprawling megacity, Lagos, in a way that questions ideas of what progress looks like. In Shanty Mega-structures, he produced a series of renderings depicting the city’s informal settlements at the scale of large commercial developments, asking viewers to reconsider who visionary architecture should be for and what practices should inspire it. -  Leilah Stone

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Davies Toews uses a DIY mind-set to punch above its weight

Every year the Architectural League of New York recognizes eight dynamic young firms as Emerging Voices that have the potential to become leaders in the field. Historic winners like Morphosis (1983) and Toshiko Mori (1992) have become today's lions, and practices like Johnston Marklee (2007) and Tatiana Bilbao (2010) have jumped to new heights after recent wins. This year's crop was selected in a two-stage portfolio competition where a jury of architects selected the winners. The deciding jury included several previous winners like Dominic Leong (2017), Fernanda Canales (2018), and Marlon Blackwell (1998), giving the process a familial feel. Laureates for 2019 come from across North America and almost all are partnerships or collaboratives—capital letters feature prominently, too.  Davies Toews will lecture at the Scholastic Auditorium at 130 Mercer Street, New York, New York, at 7:00 p.m. on March 7, as part of the Emerging Voices lecture series. The storefront office of Davies Toews Architecture is tucked behind a corner of 13th Street in Manhattan’s East Village, and like so many of the firm’s projects is defined by constraints. Common elements like outdoor tile and plywood create a homey atmosphere, and models and materials are tightly arranged throughout the space, inviting passersby to peer in on the studio’s creative process. Partners Trattie Davies and Jonathan Toews are no strangers to working around tight spatial and financial limitations. Whether it’s a linear park that rises between a descending set of switchback staircases in Hudson, New York; a perspective-defying, split-level park and art gallery in Memphis, Tennessee; or a three-story townhouse in Brooklyn, their projects are united by the common thread of extreme site-specificity. “Our strategy has been: Do first, analyze second,” said Davies. “It’s really important for us to build work, to learn about how things get done—what works and what doesn’t work, so we could get good at it. Most of what we do is built. We do very few competitions.” Fittingly, materiality plays a large role in these completed projects. For the 72,000-square-foot University of Chicago Charter School: Woodlawn Campus, a school for grades 6 through 12 with a 100 percent college acceptance rate, the studio had to balance a modest budget with lofty design ambitions. Using only locally produced Chicago brick, the studio designed a variegated, kinetic facade by patterning the building with darker, extruded brick. The school’s flared parapets and step-gap massing reference missing buildings in the surrounding neighborhood, breaks in a uniform street wall. “We realized that, project after project, the design came from the constraint,” said Toews. “Lately we’ve been thinking a lot about how to design with Sheetrock.” Even Sheetrock, a ubiquitous and uniform material, can provide inspiration; Davies compared the alternating bands of color in stacked, wrapped Sheetrock to a tapestry. “Every project gets modeled,” said Toews. “There’s the idea of the model sitting there; you can’t avoid it. We just try to keep making stuff around the project until it gets better and better.”
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FreelandBuck draws on representation for spatial effects

Every year the Architectural League of New York recognizes eight dynamic young firms as Emerging Voices that have the potential to become leaders in the field. Historic winners like Morphosis (1983) and Toshiko Mori (1992) have become today’s lions, and practices like Johnston Marklee (2007) and Tatiana Bilbao (2010) have jumped to new heights after recent wins. This year’s crop was selected in a two-stage portfolio competition where a jury of architects selected the winners. The deciding jury included several previous winners like Dominic Leong (2017), Fernanda Canales (2018), and Marlon Blackwell (1998), giving the process a familial feel. Laureates for 2019 come from across North America and almost all are partnerships or collaboratives—capital letters feature prominently, too.  FreelandBuck will lecture at the Scholastic Auditorium at 130 Mercer Street, New York, New York, at 7:00 p.m. on March 14, as part of the Emerging Voices lecture series. FreelandBuck builds drawings. Not in the traditional sense of constructing what’s represented by a drawing set, but in the sense that its architecture directly evokes carefully constructed perspectives and painstakingly hand-drawn renderings. “We think about drawing at the scale of architectural space,” says partner Brennan Buck, “as an end product, not a means to build.” Buck, based in New York City, and David Freeland, who is based in Los Angeles, met in grad school at UCLA and started working together in 2009. Of their bicoastal practice, Freeland says, “There are more opportunities than challenges. It exposes us to different groups of potential clients, but also to different environments. I think the practice is richer for that.” Working at a variety of scales also makes the practice richer, giving the firm the chance to explore its ideas in different ways. Parallax Gap, a colorful canopy of layered screens installed in the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Renwick Gallery in Washington, D.C., feels like a drawing come to life. The intricate trompe-l’oeil representations of historic American ceilings are like perspective drawings—each constructed with a unique vanishing point—that reveal themselves as visitors walk through the space. FreelandBuck borrowed rendering techniques to enliven the riff on office cubicles the firm designed for a film production company in L.A. To accommodate the company’s variable spatial needs and match its lighthearted style, the architects defined flexible work areas with a series of “tumbling” cubes whose milled surfaces, evoking a poché or hatch, suggest another set of cubes overlaid onto the first. Furniture that looks torn from a Roy Lichtenstein canvas adds to the effect of stepping into a drawing. Although there are nods to linework in the exterior finishes used on two of the firm's residential projects, Stack House and Second House, these connections to representation are more complex. In both buildings, distinctive exterior volumes articulate dedicated programs, and in both buildings, this distinction is broken down by unexpected interior elements. Stack House’s curved walls blend its spaces together, while Second House achieves a sense of continuity through materials, transparency, and interior courtyards. The perspectival shifts of Parallax Gap appear here in more subtle ways, concealing and revealing spaces, views, and experiences; it’s not about adding lines, it’s about erasing them. FreelandBuck may draw on the techniques of representation but, unlike a conventional drawing, its work can’t be understood through a single image. Like the best architecture, the spaces, places, and objects the firm creates are challenging and engaging and must be experienced to be fully appreciated.
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Colloqate instrumentalizes design as a tool for social justice

Every year the Architectural League of New York recognizes eight dynamic young firms as Emerging Voices that have the potential to become leaders in the field. Historic winners like Morphosis (1983) and Toshiko Mori (1992) have become today’s lions, and practices like Johnston Marklee (2007) and Tatiana Bilbao (2010) have jumped to new heights after recent wins. This year’s crop was selected in a two-stage portfolio competition where a jury of architects selected the winners. The deciding jury included several previous winners like Dominic Leong (2017), Fernanda Canales (2018), and Marlon Blackwell (1998), giving the process a familial feel. Laureates for 2019 come from across North America and almost all are partnerships or collaboratives—capital letters feature prominently, too.  Colloqate will lecture at the Scholastic Auditorium at 130 Mercer Street, New York, New York, at 7:00 p.m. on March 28, as part of the Emerging Voices lecture series. Colloqate Design, a multidisciplinary, New Orleans–based “nonprofit design justice practice” founded in 2017 by Bryan Lee Jr.—Sue Mobley came on in 2018—with the goal of “building power through the design of public, civic, and cultural spaces,” is setting a different path relative to other design offices. For one, Colloqate spends quite a bit of time doing the arduous work of educating and training communities, institutions, and municipal agencies through initiatives like its Design as Protest and Design Justice Summit events to “build practices around design justice,” according to Lee. Buildings are not an afterthought for the practice, but Lee and Mobley’s view of how designers and design justice intersect is firmly rooted in grappling with everything that exists beyond and around their particular projects. According to the duo, this “syntax of built environment”—including but not limited to the social mores we keep, the design of streetscapes and infrastructure, and the impact of political policies—has as direct an impact on how people use spaces as any one design element might. So a key goal of their practice involves making others aware of how these overlapping and sometimes competing languages operate so that when they do building-oriented design work in a given space, they can “intentionally organize, advocate, and design spaces of racial, social, and cultural equity.” The practice started off as an outgrowth of the Claiborne Corridor Cultural Innovation District, a visionary urban plan that would transform a 19-block area below an elevated highway in New Orleans into a “culture-based economic driver” for the Claiborne Corridor neighborhood. The plan, envisioned for an area that was once a social and economic core of New Orleans’s black community but was cleared to make room for the highway, aims to articulate a socially guided vision for bringing a public market, classrooms, exhibition spaces, and health, environmental, and social services to the area. Another project, Paper Monuments, brought a flurry of posters to sites across the city to “create new narratives and symbols of [New Orleans]…and to honor the erased histories of the people, events, movements, and places that have made up the past three hundred years” of history. The citizen-led project sought to use public art as a way to further Colloqate’s core aim of “dismantling the privilege and power structures that use the design professions to maintain systems of injustice.” Lee explained that as a nonprofit entity (Colloqate’s growing board includes urban planners, architects, and other design professionals), Colloqate must necessarily take an unorthodox and provocative approach. As the practice expands, completes projects, and envisions its future, however, Lee hopes to apply Colloqate’s ethos more directly to bricks and mortar. “We want to be the most radical design firm out there,” Lee said, “and we need to build buildings to do that.”
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SCHAUM/SHIEH experiments with architectural tools to produce surprising spaces at every scale

Every year the Architectural League of New York recognizes eight dynamic young firms as Emerging Voices that have the potential to become leaders in the field. Historic winners like Morphosis (1983) and Toshiko Mori (1992) have become today's lions, and practices like Johnston Marklee (2007) and Tatiana Bilbao (2010) have jumped to new heights after recent wins. This year's crop was selected in a two-stage portfolio competition where a jury of architects selected the winners. The deciding jury included several previous winners like Dominic Leong (2017), Fernanda Canales (2018), and Marlon Blackwell (1998), giving the process a familial feel. Laureates for 2019 come from across North America and almost all are partnerships or collaboratives—capital letters feature prominently, too.  SCHAUM/SHIEH will lecture at the Scholastic Auditorium at 130 Mercer Street, New York, New York, at 7:00 p.m. on March 21, as part of the Emerging Voices lecture series.

For SCHAUM/SHIEH, the city is not a mere backdrop for designing buildings. Instead, it is a source of productive potential and a platform for theoretical and built experimentation that has informed the firm’s relationship to design from its founding in 2010.

The studio’s founding partners, Rosalyne Shieh and Troy Schaum, first explored this interest in speculative projects for Detroit and the Taiwanese port city of Kaohsiung. Their early urban proposals for Detroit led to an installation at the 2012 Venice Architecture Biennale of a room that was also a staircase and public seating, one of many prototype structures they envisioned could infill the spaces between vacant homes in the city. This design, part of a larger project called “Sponge Urbanism,” challenged the divide between domestic and public space and confronted the broader narrative about vacancy in Detroit.

This intersection of urbanism, form, and identity is something that the studio has carried into its commissioned work, especially for cultural institutions and spaces with hybrid programs. These include the Judd Foundation’s buildings in Marfa, Texas; White Oak Music Hall in Houston; and most recently, the Transart Foundation, also in Houston.

While its Judd Foundation work is an exercise in restraint, aimed at preserving and restoring the artist Donald Judd’s vision for more than a dozen buildings in Marfa, projects like White Oak show how the designers play with form, massing, and landscape to create a distinctive destination for Houston’s music lovers and a new open space for the city as a whole. The main two-story concert hall, which contains multiple stages for different types of music and audience sizes, is part of a larger 7-acre complex which includes a lawn for outdoor performances and an open-air pavilion and bar, converted from an existing shed on the site.

Across the studio's diverse range of projects, abstract representation and diagrammatic processes are essential tools to generate concepts and collaborate with partners and clients. But, as Schaum explained, “We always like to come back to where that kind of set-making and pattern-making starts to break down and question its own set of possibilities, where the sets open up new possibilities for inhabitation rather than where they complete themselves in perfect studies of pattern or complex assemblages.”

This is evident in SCHAUM/SHIEH’s Transart Foundation (a 2018 AN Best of Design Awards Building of the Year). The project includes two structures comprising a private residence, art studio, and exhibition space, and is located across from the Menil Collection within a largely residential neighborhood.

Transart's white stucco facades, with their thick massing, look substantial, but are peeled away at the edges and corners, giving the overall appearance of lightness, like curled paper. The sculptural massing of the main building, juxtaposed against its relatively compact size— closer to a large house than a museum—also makes the foundation appear more monumental than it is, demonstrating the way SCHAUM/SHIEH works with scale to blur the lines between private and public space. This exercise in form and material produces unexpected moments and transitions that serve the multi-functional art space well.

But ultimately, the practice is most interested in its ongoing dialogue with the broader world. As Shieh explained, “I want the buildings that we make to belong to the world, and not to architecture. We don’t necessarily put them out there in a way that we hope that they tell architecture what they are, but that they somehow produce some kind of surprise.”

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MODU's multi-disciplinary approach to architecture equips them for any task

Every year the Architectural League of New York recognizes eight dynamic young firms as Emerging Voices that have the potential to become leaders in the field. Historic winners like Morphosis (1983) and Toshiko Mori (1992) have become today's lions, and practices like Johnston Marklee (2007) and Tatiana Bilbao (2010) have jumped to new heights after recent wins. This year's crop was selected in a two-stage portfolio competition where a jury of architects selected the winners. The deciding jury included several previous winners like Dominic Leong (2017), Fernanda Canales (2018), and Marlon Blackwell (1998), giving the process a familial feel. Laureates for 2019 come from across North America and almost all are partnerships or collaboratives—capital letters feature prominently, too.  MODU will lecture at the Scholastic Auditorium at 130 Mercer Street, New York, New York, at 7:00 p.m. on March 28, as part of the Emerging Voices lecture series. Phu Hoang and Rachely Rotem are architects without borders. This is not to say they’re traveling around the world doing good where it's most needed—although they are indeed doing both of these things. Rather, they’re working toward an urban future that fosters deeper and more direct connections between people and places. It’s not just a form of design, says Rotem. “It’s a form of wellbeing.” Their Cloud Seeding pavilion elegantly embodies this connection between architecture and the environment. Designed to shade a sun-battered plaza in front of the Design Museum in Holon, Israel, the pavilion is a minimal interpretation of a vernacular greenhouse with a ceiling that encloses 30,000 balls rolling freely in the wind. The shaded areas beneath the pavilion change with the weather, reprogramming the plaza. The idea of “climate” has become abstract and politicized, but weather is immediate. “Weather, for us, is a medium to allow for experiences,” says Rotem. “We see a world that is overabundant with information, but truth is unclear. Connecting to the environment is a form of truth.” Hoang agrees, adding, “I think it's important that architecture play the role of connector rather than separator. That may mean drawing the public realm into the private realm, and rethinking what both those spaces can be.” It may also mean creating indoor weather. Intake is a proposal to adapt an abandoned shipbuilding factory for light-manufacturing and commercial use. The 50,000-square-foot structure will be subdivided and conditioned by invisible walls of high-velocity air that create and maintain distinctive climactic zones tuned to each place and program. MODU’s fascination with abandoned buildings—what they call the “Incomplete City”—solidified during their recent Rome Prize fellowship, when they visited hundreds of unfinished structures. They’re building on that experience with the interdisciplinary pro bono initiative Second Life. This project aims to help revitalize communities through temporary, self-sustaining interventions—“mini-buildings”—in vacant structures. Currently, MODU is working with urban planner Naomi Hersson-Ringskog and the residents of Newburgh, New York to help preserve, protect, and program the city’s 300 vacant buildings until the town has the resources to find a more permanent solution. Hoang and Rotem also blur the boundaries of their practice, working in multiple modes simultaneously. Their conceptual work, built work, research, teaching, and urban initiatives inform one another and allow the firm to continually develop, test, and refine their ideas. Through discourse and design at scales both large and small, MODU’s indoor cities and outdoor rooms ultimately ask one question: How can we live better?
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Clarity is key for popular Portland-based firm Waechter Architecture

Every year the Architectural League of New York recognizes eight dynamic young firms as Emerging Voices that have the potential to become leaders in the field. Historic winners like Morphosis (1983) and Toshiko Mori (1992) have become today’s lions, and practices like Johnston Marklee (2007) and Tatiana Bilbao (2010) have jumped to new heights after recent wins. This year’s crop was selected in a two-stage portfolio competition where a jury of architects selected the winners. The deciding jury included several previous winners like Dominic Leong (2017), Fernanda Canales (2018), and Marlon Blackwell (1998), giving the process a familial feel. Laureates for 2019 come from across North America and almost all are partnerships or collaboratives—capital letters feature prominently, too.  Waechter Architecture will lecture at the Scholastic Auditorium at 130 Mercer Street, New York, New York, at 7:00 p.m. on March 14, as part of the Emerging Voices lecture series. For Ben Waechter, practicing architecture is an investigation into creating spaces with clarity. As founder of the Portland, Oregon–based firm, Waechter Architecture, he tries to design buildings that feature clear, visual identities that resonate with the people who experience them. The way the firm tackles this goal is through an informal, ongoing study Waechter calls “The Clarity Project.” He encourages his team to analyze their projects, and those of others, at every stage, from schematic design to post-construction. In doing this, they aim to discover the best ways to create a distinct internal logic for an individual design and reveal the underlying relationships that make it successful. “To us, a strong sense of clarity tends to be in places that simply feel the best to be in,” he said. According to Waechter, that’s one of the main themes that must be teased out when reviewing a project. Another theme is composition. The firm’s Tower House, built in 2014, presents a tubular facade with large-scale cutouts that organize the interior. It is situated on a steep site previously deemed “unbuildable,” so Waechter’s team envisioned the four-story home as a stacked structure. “We spend a lot of time making sure our projects are distilled down to a composition that’s whole and complete by itself,” he said. “If you take one point away or add something, it doesn’t work anymore.” Equally important is creating clarity of figure-ground. Waechter determines the programming within a building from the beginning. “We like to think of our plans as being carved out of a building mass and then using poches as secondary support spaces.” This strict editing process, as well as the firm’s clear commitment to minimalism, is inspired by Swiss architecture and Waechter’s own architectural journey. As a former employee of Renzo Piano, he takes the refined details seriously. “There’s a constructional logic to Renzo Piano’s buildings,” he said. “One similar thread between our work is that we also try to include a few details done really well in order to create a stronger identity.” In some cases, Waechter distinguishes his architecture by simply framing views of the surrounding locale. For a recently completed project at Furioso Vineyards in Dundee, Oregon, the firm designed a glass-enclosed tasting room on a raised platform. The height allows guests to feel as if they’re hovering above the vineyard while simultaneously connecting them with the wine-making process. If one thing is clear, it’s that clients are attracted to Waechter Architecture’s meticulous attention to detail and old-school analytical practices. Though its award-winning portfolio largely showcases expertise in single-family home design, with the vineyard project and their upcoming Society Hotel in Bingen, Washington, they’re branching out to into new territory.
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Announcing the Architectural League's 2019 Emerging Voices

Every year the Architectural League of New York recognizes eight dynamic young firms as Emerging Voices that have the potential to become leaders in the field. Historic winners like Morphosis (1983) and Toshiko Mori (1992) have become today's lions, and practices like Johnston Marklee (2007) and Tatiana Bilbao (2010) have jumped to new heights after recent wins. This year's crop was selected in a two-stage portfolio competition where a jury of architects selected the winners. The deciding jury included several previous winners like Dominic Leong (2017), Fernanda Canales (2018), and Marlon Blackwell (1998), giving the process a familial feel. Laureates for 2019 come from across North America and almost all are partnerships or collaboratives—capital letters feature prominently, too. The League will hold a lecture series from this year’s winners every Thursday in March at the Scholastic Auditorium at 130 Mercer Street, New York, New York. We profiled this year's winners, snippets of which are included below. Click on the images for the full profiles. And now, the winners are: Ignacio Urquiza, Bernardo Quinzaños, Centro de Colaboración Arquitectónica Bernardo Quinzaños, Ignacio Urquiza, and Mexico City–based Centro de Colaboración Arquitectónica (CCA) have over a decade of experience working toward their goal of using architecture as a “tool for change.” ... Urquiza explained, “We’ve always had a particular interest in architecture that is precise, yet at the same time has the flexibility of being able to give itself to each space.” He added, “Ambiguity is what gives architecture the freedom to be owned by its users.” UUfie Despite being just ten years old, UUfie has snagged commissions in high-profile locations around the world that any practice would envy. Few firms of a comparable size have worked in three continents, and UUfie’s founders are aware of the benefits of having worked around the world; they credit their global experience with bringing “more cultural awareness and diversity in thinking” to their practice. ... “In Canada, there is a growth in supporting Canadian talent and potential for establishing a vibrant design scene that is broadening its perspective. In Japan, this scene is highly established and appears to lean now toward a retrospective view,” [cofounder Irene] Gardpoit said. “Canada is a culturally diverse country in comparison to Japan. This diversity brings on its challenges, but it is also unique in that it does not necessarily have its own established identity. It allows us to experiment.”

Waechter Architecture

For Ben Waechter, practicing architecture is an investigation into creating spaces with clarity. ... “To us, a strong sense of clarity tends to be in places that simply feel the best to be in,” [Waechter] said. According to Waechter, that’s one of the main themes that must be teased out when reviewing a project.

MODU

Phu Hoang and Rachely Rotem…blur the boundaries of their practice, working in multiple modes simultaneously. Their conceptual work, built work, research, teaching, and urban initiatives inform one another and allow the firm to continually develop, test, and refine their ideas. Through discourse and design at scales both large and small, MODU’s indoor cities and outdoor rooms ultimately ask one question: How can we live better?

SCHAUM/SHIEH

For SCHAUM/SHIEH, the city is not a mere backdrop for designing buildings. Instead, it is a source of productive potential and a platform for theoretical and built experimentation that has informed the firm’s relationship to design from its founding in 2010.

Colloqate

Colloqate Design, a multidisciplinary, New Orleans–based “nonprofit design justice practice” founded in 2017 by Bryan Lee Jr.—Sue Mobley came on in 2018—with the goal of “building power through the design of public, civic, and cultural spaces,” is setting a different path relative to other design offices. … “We want to be the most radical design firm out there,” Lee said, “and we need to build buildings to do that.”

FreelandBuck

FreelandBuck builds drawings. Not in the traditional sense of constructing what’s represented by a drawing set, but in the sense that its architecture directly evokes carefully constructed perspectives and painstakingly hand-drawn renderings. “We think about drawing at the scale of architectural space,” says partner Brennan Buck, “as an end product, not a means to build.”

Davies Toews

Partners Trattie Davies and Jonathan Toews are no strangers to working around tight spatial and financial limitations. Whether it’s a linear park that rises between a descending set of switchback staircases in Hudson, New York; a perspective-defying, split-level park and art gallery in Memphis, Tennessee; or a three-story townhouse in Brooklyn, their projects are united by the common thread of extreme site-specificity. “Our strategy has been: Do first, analyze second,” said Davies.
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UUfie plays with architecture’s place in nature around the world

Every year the Architectural League of New York recognizes eight dynamic young firms as Emerging Voices that have the potential to become leaders in the field. Historic winners like Morphosis (1983) and Toshiko Mori (1992) have become today's lions, and practices like Johnston Marklee (2007) and Tatiana Bilbao (2010) have jumped to new heights after recent wins. This year's crop was selected in a two-stage portfolio competition where a jury of architects selected the winners. The deciding jury included several previous winners like Dominic Leong (2017), Fernanda Canales (2018), and Marlon Blackwell (1998), giving the process a familial feel. Laureates for 2019 come from across North America and almost all are partnerships or collaboratives—capital letters feature prominently, too.  UUfie will lecture at the Scholastic Auditorium at 130 Mercer Street, New York, New York, at 7:00 p.m. on March 21, as part of the Emerging Voices lecture series.

Despite being just ten years old, UUfie has snagged commissions in high-profile locations around the world that any practice would envy. Few firms of a comparable size have worked in three continents, and UUfie’s founders are aware of the benefits of having worked around the world; they credit their global experience with bringing “more cultural awareness and diversity in thinking” to their practice.

The firm was founded in 2009 by Irene Gardpoit and Eiri Ota in Tokyo, where the two met while Ota was working at Jun Aoki & Associates and Gardpoit at Arata Isozaki & Associates. Their firm’s first project was a residential commission from a local family in Tokyo—where Paris-born Ota grew up—and there the practice grew for a few years before moving to Toronto in 2013. Gardpoit is a native of the Canadian city and said that the move was a fresh opportunity for the firm.

“In Canada, there is a growth in supporting Canadian talent and potential for establishing a vibrant design scene that is broadening its perspective. In Japan, this scene is highly established and appears to lean now toward a retrospective view,” Gardpoit said. “Canada is a culturally diverse country in comparison to Japan. This diversity brings on its challenges, but it is also unique in that it does not necessarily have its own established identity. It allows us to experiment.”

UUfie frequently experiments with architecture’s relationship to nature, a theme that could lend itself to cliché in other hands—UUfie keeps it fresh by staying stylistically flexible and thinking broadly. For the landmark Parisian department store Printemps Haussmann, UUfie was tasked with creating a new vertical circulation space in the retailer’s historic home. The practice took its cue from the building’s Art Nouveau stained glass depictions of plants and flowers, reinterpreting the decorations’ supple arcs and florid colors for the 21st century with a triangulated screen that hovers over a seven-story wall of kaleidoscopic dichroic glass running alongside the building’s escalators. “Colorfulness was the essential part,” Ota said. “It creates interaction as people go up and down the escalator.”

Lake Cottage, a small home in the woods for a large family, has a more direct relationship with nature—it would be hard for it not to, given that it’s in the middle of a Canadian forest. Although the cottage adopts some conventional cabin tropes, like wood siding and an A-frame structure, it cleverly plays with these norms, twisting the retreat into a sleek fun house. It’s a bit difficult to grasp with words—a product of UUfie’s  spaces’ subtle complexity—but essentially, the living room is nested inside the building’s frame like a Russian doll, with windows in the main space punched out to those surrounding it so that people in an above loft can peek in on those below. That same loft is lined with abstracted exterior shingles so that the living room “skylights” seem to be looking up at another building’s roof. It’s a funny mind trick that testifies to the firm’s ability to surprise with an economy of means, regardless of locale.

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Ignacio Urquiza, Bernardo Quinzaños, and Centro de Colaboración Arquitectónica are an inclusive activist practice

Every year the Architectural League of New York recognizes eight dynamic young firms as Emerging Voices that have the potential to become leaders in the field. Historic winners like Morphosis (1983) and Toshiko Mori (1992) have become today's lions, and practices like Johnston Marklee (2007) and Tatiana Bilbao (2010) have jumped to new heights after recent wins. This year's crop was selected in a two-stage portfolio competition where a jury of architects selected the winners. The deciding jury included several previous winners like Dominic Leong (2017), Fernanda Canales (2018), and Marlon Blackwell (1998), giving the process a familial feel. Laureates for 2019 come from across North America and almost all are partnerships or collaboratives—capital letters feature prominently, too.  Ignacio Urquiza, Bernardo Quinzaños, and CCA will lecture at the Scholastic Auditorium at 130 Mercer Street, New York, New York, at 7:00 p.m. on March 7, as part of the Emerging Voices lecture series.

Bernardo Quinzaños, Ignacio Urquiza, and Mexico City–based Centro de Colaboración Arquitectónica (CCA) have over a decade of experience working toward their goal of using architecture as a “tool for change.”

Since its founding in 2008, the partnership has completed over two hundred projects with the help of many interdisciplinary collaborators, including builders, contractors, and nonprofits. The firm, an organization dedicated to the “research, conceptualization, and development of architectural and urban projects,” according to the architects, combines tastefully exuberant buildings with socially driven programming—the goal being to enrich the practice of architecture. With a deep interest in local building traditions and a passion for collaboration between adjacent professionals and craftspeople, Quinzaños and Urquiza pursue building as a social and creative enterprise.

For example, the firm recently completed a new campus for the State of Mexico Boys and Girls Club, an organization for at-risk youth, comprising three spartan educational buildings linked by an arch-covered concrete walkway. Just as the human spine is made up of two dozen vertebrae, the walkway is composed of 24 pairs of intersecting concrete vaults generously proportioned for group conversation. The walkway connects classrooms and spaces for the performing arts and sports programs with a sunken amphitheater and plaza that constitute the center’s beating social heart.

Urquiza explained, “We’ve always had a particular interest in architecture that is precise, yet at the same time has the flexibility of being able to give itself to each space.” He added, “Ambiguity is what gives architecture the freedom to be owned by its users.”

One way the parnership imbues its projects with this desired ambiguity is by creating many different kinds of covered outdoor spaces to establish architecturally focused social condensers.

In their Escuela Bancaria y Comercial Aguascalientes project, for instance, the designers invert the approach taken at the Boys and Girls Club by designing an inwardly focused campus centered on broad internal hallways and exposed single-loaded corridors. A central concrete-lined courtyard is the epicenter of consecutive circulation rings that connect formal classrooms and libraries with public living rooms to help create areas where students’ minds can wander and extended conversations can take place.

In the firm’s more conventional commercial and residential projects, the designers make skillful use of layered spaces to add a human dimension to larger-scale buildings. Casa Moulat, a wedge-shaped residential golf compound north of Mexico City, for example, uses mud-colored concrete walls to frame a pair of long-span openings that dematerialize to form a living room open to the landscape on two sides. At Casa Moulat, landscapes, materials, and buildings come together both physically and conceptually.

As Urquiza sees it, their approach is a pragmatic one: “For us, it’s very important to understand what we have available nearby and use it in a precise manner. Economy of means is a fundamental concept in our practice.”

Starting 2019, Urquiza and Quinzaños will carry on to work in independent offices: Quinzaños will remain as lead of Centro de Colaboración Arquitectónica while Urquiza will continue his practice as Ignacio Urquiza Arquitectos.

Emerging Voices 2018 Night 4: LA-Más & Estudio de Arquitectura

Emerging Voices 2018

Helen Leung, Elizabeth Timme, LA-Más, Los Angeles Luis Aldrete, Estudio de Arquitectura, Guadalajara Introduced by Paul Makovsky 1.5 AIA and New York State CEUs The fourth evening of the annual Emerging Voices lecture series. Emerging Voices spotlights individuals and firms based in the United States, Canada, or Mexico with distinct design voices and the potential to influence the disciplines of architecture, landscape architecture, and urbanism.

Nonprofit urban design group LA-Más focuses on underserved Los Angeles neighborhoods. It collaborates with community members, government agencies, and developers with a goal to grow cities equitably through design projects and policy initiatives. Recent work includes Go Avenue 26, enhanced public transit access near a major highway overpass in East Los Angeles; and “Backyard Basics: An Alternative Story for the Accessory Dwelling Unit,” a conceptual proposal exploring how collectively developed accessory dwelling units could serve as a model for affordable housing along the LA River.

Since establishing Estudio de Arquitectura in 2007, Luis Aldrete has designed residential, hospitality, and cultural facilities, where he works with local craftspeople to employ construction techniques developed over generations. Recent projects include BF Residence, a Guadalajara house whose program nods to the traditional Mexican hacienda; Rinconada Margaritas Residential Complex, a high-rise development in Guadalajara that responds to an adjacent ravine; and Pilgrim Route Shelters, an infrastructural network of shelters designed with other collaborators to support an annual Jalisco pilgrimage.

Paul Makovsky is Vice President of Design at Metropolis Magazine. He served on this year’s Emerging Voices committee.

Emerging Voices 2018 Night 3: Comunal: Taller de Arquitectura & Davidson Rafailidis

Emerging Voices 2018

Jesica Amescua and Mariana Ordóñez Grajales, Comunal: Taller de Arquitectura, Mexico City Stephanie Davidson, George Rafailidis, Davidson Rafailidis, Buffalo Introduced by Stella Betts 1.5 AIA and New York State CEUs The third evening of the annual Emerging Voices lecture series. Emerging Voices spotlights individuals and firms based in the United States, Canada, or Mexico with distinct design voices and the potential to influence the disciplines of architecture, landscape architecture, and urbanism.

Founded in 2015, Mexico City-based Comunal: Taller de Arquitectura provides design services to underserved communities. Their work centers around five methodological axes which they feel are fundamental to “developing inclusive, participatory, and contexutal projects.” Recent work includes Childbirth Houses, designs for midwife workspaces informed by extensive dialogue with an indigenous Chiapas community; and Territory and Inhabitant, a research project for a house that could be built in Yucatán for less than $10,000.

Stephanie Davidson and Georg Rafailidis established Davidson Rafailidis in 2008. Both are members of the architecture faculty at the University of Buffalo and have also taught at the RWTH Aachen University in Germany and the University of Toronto. Recent projects include He, She & It, a structure with three distinct workspaces for a Buffalo couple; Café Fargo (Tipico Coffee), a coffee shop in a former corner store also in Buffalo; and Mirror, Mirror, the winner of a competition aimed at reimagining the street festival tent.

Stella Betts is a co-founding Principal of the New York-based LEVENBETTS and a past Emerging Voices winner in 2009. She has taught at Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, The Cooper Union, and Cornell University’s College of Art, Architecture, and Planning, among other institutions. She served on this year’s Emerging Voices committee.